Two self-professed Los Angeles-area gang members claim they've joined the fight in the Syrian civil war. Now, federal officials say they're investigating whether the men pose a threat to Americans or U.S. interests. Gadi Schwartz reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Monday, March 3, 2014.
Federal authorities said they are investigating a YouTube video showing two self-professed Los Angeles gang members shooting assault rifles in what appears to be war-torn Syria.
The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force said it is looking into any ties the two men may have to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s military.
The nearly 2-minute long video shows two rifle-toting men in military fatigues claiming to belong to two separate LA-area street gangs, Armenian Power and Surenos 13.
"The gangs that they allegedly belong to very much have organized crime kinds of activities," said UC Irvine gang expert Dr. Ronald Huff.
The men appear to be relaxed, but claim to be on the front lines of the Syrian civil war. There is no sound of incoming fire in the video, and it does not show other fighters.
"For them to go and fight on his side suggests that either there is some kind of connection through religious affiliation or that they are perhaps mercenaries," Huff said.
Federal officials tell NBC News' investigative unit that they are “investigating the video to determine any potential threat to Americans or U.S. interests."
Facebook posts by one of the men who goes by “Wino” shows possible affiliations with Hezbollah fighters. He also wrote about fighting for Assad’s army and claims he was deported from the U.S.
NBC4's Gadi Schwartz reached out to the men on Facebook, but as of Monday night, had not heard back.